Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

By keeping U.S. focus on Islamic State, Trump risks wider Syria war


The missiles flew over Iraq before striking what the Guard called an Islamic State command center and suicide auto bomb operation in Deir el-Zour, over 600 kilometers (370 miles) away. On Sunday evening, June 18, a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet "immediately shot down" a Syrian SU-22 warplane after it dropped bombs near coalition forces around 6:43 p.m., the Department of Defense reports in a news release.

It is unclear whether the IRGC also coordinated with Iraq prior to launching the missiles into Iraqi airspace.

In another complication, Iran on Sunday launched ballistic missile strikes at Islamic State targets in eastern Syria, the first time it has carried out such an action.

The launch, which hit Syria's eastern city of Deir el-Zour on Sunday night, appeared to be Iran's first missile attack overseas in over 15 years and its first in the Syrian civil war, in which it has provided crucial support to embattled President Bashar Assad.

It comes amid the worsening of a long-running feud between Shiite powerhouse Iran and Saudi Arabia, which supports Syrian rebels and has led recent efforts to isolate the Gulf nation of Qatar. Since then, the United States has repeatedly struck Iranian-backed militia and last week even shot down a drone threatening US -led coalition forces.

The U.S. launched 59 missiles at the Shayrat air base in early April in response to a chemical attack that was blamed on the Syrian government and Assad.

There was no official reaction from Syria, which has been backed by Iran as it seeks to force Islamic State forces off of its territory.

It was the first time that ISIS, a Sunni Muslim group fighting Iranian-backed militias in Syria, has claimed responsibility for an attack in Iran.

Netanyahu has been a vocal opponent of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, charging that Tehran is aiming to achieve nuclear weapons. Former Guard chief Gen. Mohsen Rezai wrote on Twitter: "The bigger slap is yet to come".

Iran said the attack was a warning to terrorists and their backers not to attempt further such attacks on Iran.

Clashes between Syrian troops and the SDF would escalate tensions and open a new front line in the many complex battlefields of the civil war, now in its seventh year.

Both sides are battling the Islamic State group, with SDF fighters focusing on their march into the northern city of Raqqa, which the extremist group has declared to be its capital.

A day after the US military shot down a Syrian warplane for the first time, Russia's Defense Ministry sent out a clear message Monday, June 19.

Syrian opposition activist Omar Abu Laila, who is based in Germany but closely follows events in his native Deir el-Zour, said two Iranian missiles fell near and inside the eastern town of Mayadeen, an Islamic State stronghold.

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